aaaahhhhh…Free Tibet. My sweet, soft Free Tibet. Free Tibet has been with me for twelve years…since I saw the Dalai Lama speak at Emory University in his happy and deep Kermit-the- Frog voice– absolutely incomprehensible to me, though I was glued to every syllable and translation. I am not a Tibetan Buddhist. But a buddhist, yes…a person who resonates with it…a wannabe…a pupil.
Tibet was my cause celebre for much of my twenties and thirties–the cruel injustice of it all. And I did see Kundun…in the theatre… three nights in a row when it came out. But my Free Tibet is something else entirely. My Free Tibet has held me softly in my sleep for more than a decade. No one but my family has ever seen me in my Free Tibet. I am not the too-big t-shirt type by day. That is why I painted in it for so many years…I didn’t know what it would become. Free Tibet has been bleached many times…and with real bleach…and also vinegar, sunshine and borax. That is perhaps why it is now almost translucent… the fibers have been washed and washed and bleached and washed and dried so many times. We all have a favorite shirt. Free Tibet comforts my soul when I put it on…which isn’t every night. I only put on Free Tibet when the situation calls for it–when nothing else will do–when I can’t be comforted in any other way.
And now I don’t know what to do. It isn’t art. I don’t want it to become art and sew it into something else…I want it to be there for me forever. My kids put their fingers in the holes and pull. And maybe my kids are what makes Free Tibet so tender. Because after kids, cause celebres and protests- great and small- find their way to the back of the top shelf of the closet of one’s soul. New protests and causes become much more important. We don’t lose ourselves…we just change…and the only things that get to stick around are the things that really, truly matter. All the rest is burned up and melted away by the immediate moment…here…now. By the brushing of teeth. By the cleaning-up. By snack time. But how I wish the progression of time would stop…just for my Free Tibet. If I were truly a buddhist, this impermanence stuff would be so much easier for me. Maybe it’s never too late to start.
What a beautifully told story, Carrie. Thanks for sharing and may your blessed shirt stay with you always 🙂